PREVIOUS “MOUSE” POSTINGS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Mouse in a Hole . . . er Vent! Mouse in a Vent!
The nice thing about being tiny is that I can fit in places where no one even thinks to look: think mouse, lower case. Which is why I am now in an air conditioning vent at the museum where I had thought my job was done two hours ago.
Something went wrong. That’s all I know. Whatever Joe had done, needed to be redone because someone diverted his signal. That’s all they’re telling me. So I go to the ladies again, hide in a stall, and close down the alarm system again. The restroom door opens.
“That’s your ex-fiance?” a woman asks, a slight slur in her voice.
“Yes. He’s a right bore, isn’t he? But easy enough to still twist around my finger,” Caro says. “Did you see that little elf-like creature he was with? He gave her the boot quick enough.”
There’s silence and I’m almost afraid to breathe. I’ve lifted my legs up so if they look, they’ll think they’re alone.
“Caro, there’s someone messing with the alarm again,” the other woman says.
“I probably shouldn’t have left Tom alone. I’m sure he’s somehow connected to this. Silly man,” Caro says.
After they leave, I message Joe and then duck into the long dark hallway. High heels approach. I glance around. The only escape is the vent. I pull out the grate, scoot in, and then try to quietly replace the grate.
And, here I am. Watching through the thin lines of the metal grate. I have my phone out ready to take pictures.
A tall dark skinned woman comes into view, her eyes dart everywhere. She must be the woman Caro was talking to.
Another pair of heels approaches. It’s Caro.
“Find her. It has to be her. Tom hasn’t left the reception,” Caro says, through clenched teeth.
“I’ll find her, luv. No worries.”
Caro reaches up and runs her nail along the other woman’s cheek and then leans in to kiss her lips.
Snap. Photo taken. Record on.
“What do I do with her?”
“Tie her up. Lock her up. Just get her the hell out of the way. I need to go back or he’ll get suspicious.”
Caro leaves. The other woman resumes her search. I move slightly back so that my face isn’t pressed against the grate. My shoe clinks against something. I stop breathing wondering how audible it was. The woman halts, looks behind her, then slowly approaches the hallway she’d just canvassed. She enters the ladies room. I hear her bang each stall door open. I shift a little farther back while she’s making noise.
When she returns, she looks in both directions and then her eyes fix on the vent.
Damn. Does she see that it’s crooked? With the sparse lighting, I know she can’t see me in here. My phone is hidden so it’s not showing light. Why is she approaching? She reaches down and picks up my headband, which I didn’t even realize I’d lost when I climbed into the vent. Now she’s on her knees looking in. Crapola.
Suddenly she grasps the grating and pulls it out. Then she’s grabbed me and yanks. My skin snags on a something sharp as does my lovely purple dress which I hear rip. She bodily tosses me onto the carpet. She must be nearly six foot. She towers over me as I lie there looking up.
“If you know what’s good for you, you won’t scream,” she says.
“Scream?” I ask. “Do I look like a screamer?”
She clutches my upper arm and yanks me to my feet which leaves her slightly off-balance, just enough so that my right hand, still holding my cell, arcs around and jams into her nose. Both of her hands go to her nose. I knot my hands together and direct a blow to her stomach. She falls to her knees. When I think she’s done, she whirls her left leg around. Instantly I react, hop up, one foot kicks at her. This time she falls back and I’m pretty certain she’s unconscious.
I hurry down the corridor toward the reception hall, hoping that I see Joe, but instead there’s Tom and Caro standing just outside of the heavy double doors. Tom glances away from her, sees me, takes in my newly bedraggled appearance, and frowns. Certainly he knew that Joe and I had to return?
“Mouse, what’s happened?” he asks, stalking toward me. His eyes mirror concern.
Caro trails after him, her cheeks pale.
“Ask your girlfriend,” I say. Then I feel the pressure of cold steel against my temple.